You may have seen a few headlines this week noting that Office 2007 was exiting the free support phase this week, and moving into the "Extended" (paid) support period.
Actually -- as I discovered via a tweet from Directions on Microsoft's Rob Helm -- Microsoft quietly gave Office 2007 (with Service Pack 3) an extension. Instead of moving into the Extended Support phase on April 9, as was the original plan, Office 2007 now moves to Extended on October 9, 2012. Extended support for the product ends on October 10, 2017.
Mainstream support is the period during which Microsoft provides free and regular updates including both security fixes and other patches for a product. Once a product exits the mainstream support phase, it enters Extended Support. During this period, security updates for a product remain free, but most other updates are only supplied on a paid basis, and require a separate Hotfix Agreement.
I just confirmed this with Microsoft. “Based on our support policies, we moved the EOL (end of life) support dates for the Microsoft Office Division 2007 editions forward to October to give 2 full years of mainstream support after the launch of the 2010 products.”
Here's the Microsoft Life Cycle page for Office 2010 with the updated dates:
(click on the chart to enlarge)
Microsoft is encouraging those still using Office 2007 to move to Office 2010 as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Office 15, which is likely to be called Office 2013, from what I've heard, is expected to hit public beta this summer and possibly be released to manufacturing late this year (November, according to the source grapevine).
As my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott noted earlier this year, Microsoft quietly updated its Product Lifecycle rules to extend support for the Consumer versions of Vista and Windows 7 to 10 years (five mainstream, five extended), the same amount of time that Business versions of Windows are supported.
Windows Vista moved from Mainstream to Extended support earlier this week.